Behaviour: What is going on in schools? (And how does it affect teachers?)

It’s 2.30pm on a wet Tuesday afternoon. Quiet little Jamie has just smashed Ethan over the head with an apple, two girls are on phones hidden in their laps, and the rest of the class have lapsed into giggly chatter. These scenes aren’t even the stuff of real teacher nightmares, it’s just the work-a-day difficulty of teaching real live human children with their own priorities. Keeping pupils learning is therefore a huge part of the job, but it’s tough to do, and not every environment is equally set up to get the behaviour for it.

But, just how bad is behaviour in schools? And how much does it affect teachers careers? Last week, Teacher Tapp asked over 3,000 teachers what was going on in their classroom and here’s what we learned…

First, teachers REALLY care about disruptive behaviour

When given the choice: most teachers prefer to work somewhere with longer hours in return for fewer behaviour issues.

Think that through! The toil of dealing with bad behaviour in lessons is so draining that teachers would prefer to do anything else in longer hours to compensate for it.

Also, teachers working in more affluent areas are most likely to prefer long hours over behaviour. (In the graph, 1 = lowest free school meals quintile, 5 = highest).

‘Behaviour doesn’t matter in primary schools’

A number of teachers on social media suggested that primary schools don’t really struggle with behaviour issues.

Actually, disruption seems to be just as common in primary schools as in secondary ones. On a fairly random Tuesday (5th Feb), 28% of primary and 31% of secondary teachers reported that their last lesson had largely stopped because of poor behaviour.

Behaviour is worst for new teachers

Behaviour management is a particularly huge deal for our new teachers -with learning disrupted about half the time.

Those experiencing poor behaviour in the last lesson of their day were also much more likely to be concerned about disruption in the first lesson the next morning…

… which can mean new teachers spend their evenings worrying about work. It’s no wonder so many leave in their first years if feeling this way.

Can I escape bad behaviour by teaching in a posh area? Erm… possibly not.

Concerns about behaviour are a little more prevalent in schools serving more disadvantaged communities, but perhaps not as much as you would think. Even 28% of teachers in schools with the wealthiest intakes (1 = low) still have concerns about behaviour in their next lesson.

That said, those teaching in schools with a high number of pupils receiveing free meals are much more likely to receive derogatory comments from pupils about their intelligence.

SO, why is behaviour such a big problem?

Besides the fact that teaching is hard work, it seems that many schools don’t consistently implement behaviour policies….

…Although senior management seem to think they do!

…And in schools with inconsistent behaviour policies, more lessons are reported to be disrupted.

Secondary schools categorised by Ofsted as Requires Improvement or Inadequate seem to have a particular problem with enforcing a strict behaviour policy (though, incidentally, higher free school meals schools don’t).

Does anyone feel positively about behaviour?

You told us that around 40% of you were dreading at least one lesson this week.

But a few teachers also challenged us to be more positive and ask if anyone was looking forward to lessons, too!

Thankfully, 13% of teachers are looking forward to every single lesson. 

We compared your responses for dreading and looking forward to. There is a pretty big group of you who have NO lessons you are looking forward to and NO lessons you are dreading! What’s that about? (It’s that green line saying 67% at the bottom)

Someone rightly pointed out that teachers might be dreading lessons for all sorts of reasons. Is it really down to behaviour? Mostly yes.

And, yet again, new teachers are particularly affected by behaviour (and also lesson observations)

So, what have we learned?

  • Behaviour is an issue in around 30% of lessons – primary or secondary
  • It is particularly problematic for new teachers, and contributes to them worrying about future lessons
  • Inconsistently applied behaviour policies increase dread and correlate with a poor Ofsted grading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.